timing of the Rapture is easily one of the most
confusing and divisive issues within the Body of the
Christ, something I've always considered extremely
It would seem to me that the issue of when He is coming
is important only in understanding the signs of the
times, but not terribly important in terms of salvation
or issues of eternity, or even in terms of living a
Taken separately from following Bible prophecy,
believing in Who is coming, and the certainty of His
return, are all that is truly necessary to be a
Christian. The timing of that event itself, is largely
one of academics.
That being said, we ARE students of Bible prophecy;
watchmen on the wall, as I like to express it, and the
timing of the Rapture is extremely important to
understanding the signs of the times.
We see evidence all around us, and we use that evidence
to warn of His soon return. To us, understanding the
Rapture is understanding how to rightly divide the Word
The key to rightly dividing the Word is understanding
Dispensationalism and the division between the Age of
the Law, the Age of Grace (Church Age) and the
Tribulation (Daniel's 70th Week).
There are four basic interpretations of the Rapture;
pre-Tribulational, mid-tribulational and post-tribulational
Pre-Trib holds to the view the Lord returns BEFORE the
Tribulation. Mid-Trib teaches that the Rapture of the
Church will occur in the middle of the 7 year
tribulation period. It will occur sometime around the
abomination of desolation when the anti-Christ goes into
the rebuilt Jewish temple and there claim to be God.
The Post-Trib view teaches that as the Lord Jesus is
returning back to earth, God's people will be 'caught
up' or raptured at that point in time. They will
immediately return to earth with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each of these views can be supported, to some degree, by
Scripture, but only one, obviously, can be the correct
view. I believe the one with the fewest Scriptural
problems is the best candidate.
One of the problems with a mid-Trib view is glaring; it
denies the doctrine of imminency. Although the
Scriptures teach a SECRET coming, (no man knoweth the
day or hour) once the Tribulation begins, one just has
to sit down with a calendar. It will be no surprise and
it will come at a known time.
Another problem with the mid-Trib Rapture view is that
its followers aren't looking for Christ, they are
watching for the anti-Christ, from whom they derive
By contrast, I am awaiting Jesus Christ. I never expect
to know who the antichrist will be, and frankly, I don't
really care. My purpose, to the degree I even discuss
the antichrist in your Omega Letter, is to demonstrate
how the world is preparing for his coming -- and to
remind people that Jesus is coming FIRST!
The mid-Tribulation view is not widely followed for
these reasons, among others.
The post-Tribulation view shares the same problem as
mid-Trib -- it denies the doctrine of imminency.
It will be even easier to pinpoint the return of Christ,
given the Bible gives the exact number of days between
the 'abomination of desolation' (Matthew 24:15; 2nd
Thessalonians 2:4) and the return of the Messiah.
"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be
taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set
up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety
days." (Daniel 12:11)
Compare that to Jesus' Words; "But of that day and hour
knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my
Father only. " (Matthew 24:36) If the post-Trib view is
correct, that secret is hidden only until the revelation
So it shares the same second flaw with the mid-Trib
view; both of these interpretations make the coming of
antichrist the seminal event in prophecy, with the
secret coming of Christ for His Church a secondary Plan.
The post-Tribulation view also doesn't pass the logic
test. The post-Trib interpretation is that Jesus
Raptures the Church, who then return with Him at the
Battle of Armageddon.
"And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon
white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."
(Revelation 19:14) The 'fine linen, white and clean' are
the garments of those Washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
So, Jesus leaves heaven with 'ten thousands' of empty
white horses. As He descends, God's people are Raptured,
presumably translated from this earth to the back of a
white horse on its way back!
The next problem with this view is what happens next.
According to Scripture, the earth is repopulated during
the Millennial Kingdom period.
If all God's people are raptured as the Lord Jesus
returns that will leave only the wicked on earth when He
returns. The wicked will be destroyed as they will NEVER
inherit the kingdom of God.
So if the wicked are destroyed and God's people are all
raptured then who will be left to enter into the 1000
When people go into the 1000 year kingdom they will not
have their eternal bodies but will be just like we are
They will marry and have children. After the rapture all
God's people will have their eternal bodies leaving no
mortals left on earth to go into the 1000 year kingdom.
The post-Trib view is widely received, despite its
problems. It's adherents generally also believe that
Israel plays no important role in the last days, since
the promises of God to Israel were passed on to the
Church after the Jews rejected their Messiah.
That is also one of the reasons that post-Tribulationists
are so hostile to Dispensationalists and pre-Tribulationists;
our 'wrong-headed' support for Israel based on our
belief that God has a Plan for Israel that doesn't
include the Church.
It explains the blatantly anti-Semitic nature of many
mainstream churches. It is at the root of the 'Christian
anti-semitism' that was responsible for centuries of
persecution of the Jews by the Church.
It explains the 'Christ-killer' label that is used to
incite anti-Semitic actions and to justify anti-Semitism
as a worldview. To some Christians, the crowd's demands,
"Then answered all the people, and said, His Blood be on
us, and on our children," (Matthew 27:25) carries more
weight than Jesus Himself, when He said, " Father,
forgive them; for they know not what they do," (Luke
That is not intended to characterize all people who hold
to a post-Tribulation worldview, but explain the
teachings of post-Tribulationalism and some of the
reasons for their hostility to the pre-Tribulationist
The fourth view is the most recent, being advanced in
the late 1980's by Florida evangelist Marv Rosenthal. It
attempts to define the point when the Great Tribulation
begins. Pre-Wrath puts the Rapture at a point just after
the Sixth Seal.
This view also has its share of problems. For one, it
denies the doctrine of imminency. The Rapture cannot
take place today. It could not take place tomorrow. The
Rapture cannot take place next week, next month or next
year or even the year after that!
The Rapture will occur immediately prior to the Day of
the Lord and the Day of the Lord will begin with the
opening of the seventh seal. The Rapture will occur on
the very day that the Day of the Lord begins. We're
still years away from the Day of the Lord, (even if
Israel were to sign antichrist's treaty tomorrow
Rosenthal divides the 70th Week of Daniel into three
distinct periods. The first three and one half years are
"the beginnings of sorrows" period. The second is the
Great Tribulation, which beings at the middle of the
In his book, "The Pre-Wrath Rapture" (Thomas Nelson
Books, 1990) Rosenthal defines the Great Tribulation as
"man's wrath against man" not God's. (page 105)
According to this view, the Day of the Lord must be
clearly distinguished from the Great Tribulation. These
two time periods are distinct and separate and do not
overlap. They both occur during the last 3˝ years,
beginning with the Great Tribulation and followed
immediately by the Day of the Lord.
It is uncertain when the Great Tribulation ends and when
the Day of the Lord begins because THIS is the event of
which no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36)
The Church will be on earth when the Antichrist makes a
treaty with Israel which marks the beginning of the 70th
week. The Church must enter the 70th week and go through
the "beginnings of sorrows."
The Church must be on earth during the entire period
called the Great Tribulation ("the time of Jacob’s
trouble") and will not be Raptured until after the Great
Tribulation is over, but immediately prior to the Day of
Therefore, the Church must be on earth for saints to
decide if they will accept the mark of Antichrist.
The Dispensationalist, pre-Tribulationist view of the
Rapture is the only one consistent with the teachings of
the Scriptures. It allows for a secret, signless,
Rapture of the Church, as taught by Our Lord.
It teaches that the Restrainer of evil is removed (the
indwelt, Spirit-filled Church) which allows for the
unrestrained evil of the antichrist. While the Holy
Spirit will remain on the earth during the Tribulation,
the Church does not.
The pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church is not
awaiting the antichrist, it is awaiting the Christ,
which is wholly consistent with Scriptures that promise
a special crown for those who await His coming.
Everything harmonizes with the Scriptures without the
necessity to allegorize or spiritualize a literal
teaching in order to make it work.
Now to the point. Every day we attempt to document some
current event relevant to Bible prophecy. In point of
fact, we haven't documented a single FULFILLMENT of a
Bible prophecy since the restoration of Israel in 1948
-- and that is a prophecy in the process of fulfillment.
Israel has been restored, the Jews regathered to their
ancient homeland, but their national redemption is yet
What we are witnessing are more like shadows in the
sense that one can see a shadow of a man, but not his
features. From the shadow, you can identify with
certainty that it is of a man, but that is about all you
can say for sure.
Paul describes it as 'seeing through a glass darkly';
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face
to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even
as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
There are things we know, and there are things unknown.
We know, for example, that the government of the
antichrist during the Tribulation will control the
global economy, global government and global religious
While we don't know who he is, the development, in this
generation, of these three distinct systems, casts the
shadow of the antichrist.
We know that the world will be divided into four
distinct spheres of world power; Gog-Magog, the Kings of
the East, the Kings of the South and the revived Roman
Empire. The Bible makes no mention of a fifth,
We see the development of those four Biblical spheres of
global power, while the future of America is tenuous, to
say the least.
We see, in part, and we know in part, but darkly.
We are seeing shadows of the coming Tribulation - we're
not there, yet.
The signs of His coming, and the unfolding of Bible
prophecy, were given as a sign to a 'wicked and
adulterous generation' which 'seeketh after a sign'.
We see through a glass, darkly. We know things in part,
and we see shadows in the signs of what is to come.
The Bible says that these events are NOT fulfilled until
the Tribulation Period begins. These events were given,
not as a warning, but as an encouragement the Church
through the ages, and in particular, the Church of the
The Apostle Paul called it "the Blessed Hope."